Tomorrow morning between nine and eleven, national Irish broadcaster Newstalk 106 will debate the upcoming Ben Stiller movie Tropic Thunder. It ought to get lively. Opinions will be sought, including mine. The film opens today in the US. Its premiers have attracted crowds of protesters who wish to ban it.
I haven’t seen it, and I’m not in favour of banning it, or proscribing the words used in it for that matter, although the ‘R word’ (as the US euphemism is known to the disability lobbyists) has much more weight there than it does here. More on that at a later date. What I do have a problem with is the way that DreamWorks has manipulated the content of this movie, to the point of making a dedicated website, trailer and even merchandising for the fictitious movie within Tropic Thunder called Simple Jack. Its strapline read ‘Once there was a retard.’ References to it on the web have pretty much disappeared. Step up and take a bow, US Disability lobbyists.
(In my utter naivete, I know) I see studios as being a type of moral barometer in these issues. Or at least I want to see them that way. The tone they set will in turn be adopted by the more impressionable, especially the young. The fact that a stellar cast of great comedic talent is involved makes this all the more likely. Fourteen year olds don’t give a flying monkey’s about the scriptwriters’ determination to lampoon Hollywood. They’ll think ‘retard’ bashing is an open sport, and vulnerable people will be hurt. That’s the point for me. Just that. And I want to make my point known. Thanks to people who have opened up the debate so far, including here and here. Apologies if I left you out.
If you want to voice your opinion for Newstalk’s debate you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and mark the subject Tropic Thunder.
Major thanks to Hammie for the push on this one. She is queen of everything, you know.